Wednesday, March 12, 2008


There aren't a lot of Bodyweight purists out there. Many of them lift weights to some degree. Yet it’s surprising how many claim to be BW only and embrace kettlebell training. I suppose that a lot of the BW guys out there are anti-gym establishment, like the crew that revived kettlebells as a legitimate training too are. Plus, Pavel is quick to point out the effectiveness of BW training even though he promotes kettlebells. The acceptance of BW training on behalf of the kettle krew along with the anti-establishment mentality has apparently made it acceptable to train with kettlebells.

I don’t and haven’t trained with kettlebells. I don’t train with them for much of the same reason that I don’t train with any other weights: They cost money and I can’t travel with them. Also, I think that some of the kettlebell exercise border too closely on dangerous. Swinging a massive piece of iron by a towel just doesn’t strike me as safe. I have said previously that I don’t like exercises that are so close to injurious that one flaw in execution can mean injury. Sure, if you have the proper form you won’t get hurt but we all know that form can slip a bit when you fatigue.

I also don’t see anything magical about them either. They are a cannonball with a handle. The kettlebell is the child of improvisation, not of magic. It is simply an awkward weight which requires more stabilizer muscles to lift properly. That may make them a better workout than barbells, dumb bells and machines but you could replicate this awkwardness with sandbags, rocks, logs, or any other heavy, awkward object without spending the money on the glorified cannonball.

I may be coming down negatively on kettlebell training but I see them as a lot of hype and even a bit gimmicky. If you like training with them then by all means indulge. You certainly don’t need my non-expert endorsement to do so. I’d rather see you do this than nothing at all. Still, I’m about getting away from equipment and not relying on anything outside of my own body and mind to get myself in shape and kettlebells don't fit into the equation.


Anonymous said...

Now this is an excellent article! I actually have a follow up question for you. I would imagine that people like kettlebells for the ballistic lifts (swings, snatches etc.) For people looking for that kind of explosive training would you suggest plyometrics. We all know it's horses for courses and to get good at a snatch, practice a snatch and to get good at a plyo pushup, do some plyo pushups, but i would imagine that for free a person could get a wide range of the ballistic nature of kb's by doing plyometrics. your thoughts. again, your last couple of blogs have been really good!

Justin_PS said...

Thank you for your kind words and I'm glad that you're enjoying my writing!

I frequently practice plyometrics, particularly for the lower body. I think that they're great for devloping explosive power in the body.

I think that there are few things to keep in mind about them however. They are jarring on the body. Make sure that you're in good shape when you do them and approach them carefully. Don't over do them. It's easy to hurt yourself if you're unprepared for them. Also, having the proper surface to do them is important. A surface with some give is much appreciated.

Unless you're practicing for a sport, I don't think that you need to do them for overall health. If you're doing them for sport-related reasons, they are very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Just perhaps a strange comment to make. I know you like bodyweight fitness because its extremely portable but there is some equipment that i think is a worth while investment. just wondering your thoughts (perhaps a similiar blog entry hint hint)

1. Chinning Bar- nuff said, can accomadate every grip (i like the ones that allow parallel grip)

2. Total Body Press (basically a dipping station) I have wrist issue and having a simple device that allows for dips and body weight rows is nice.

and thats it. Well, maybe a sledgehammer. nothing like waving a sledgehammer like a maniac to get the blood flowing (i'm joking in that pls pls pls use good from when using a sledge hammer, not jsut for your house but for your body!)

You don't really need the above stuff, buts its nice to have. Countertops corners and chairs can be used for dips, and doors for pull ups, but i like the range of motion on bars and the ease on the wrists as stated previously. Is there anything you use thats not exactly portable (jump rope, ab roller, perfect pushup don't count) Really i'm just opening up a discussion and i'd be interested in your thoughts.

Justin_PS said...

People are reading my mind lately! Yes, I have drafted an article exactly about what you're talking about. It should be published in the next month or so.

I do use some equipment when i work out at home. I have a Bosu ball, swiss balls. boxes for elevating my feet and/or hands for pushups, ab roller, perfect pushups, etc. Even when I travel, I bring pull-up handles, push-ups handles, and a jumpe rope.

There isn't a thing in the world wrong with using equipment, IMO. If that is what gets you to move, then by all means indulge. I just don't like being tethered to equipment for a workout. If I don't have it, I'll still get by. Just make sure that you can do the same.

Anonymous said...

I AGREE 100%!! the only equipment i use is my beloved pullup bar but i am tempted to get myself a strong resistance band to do sprints with when i cant get outside cause in my opinion nothing beats sprinting for conditioning (except burpees of course) I used to use the bands alot awhile back for strength training but ...u gotta be careful that shit hurts when it whips you lol.

Anonymous said...

Well KB's do have a unique training effect. If you haven't tried them then I don't see how you can be so critical of them?
You wouldn't want people to bash BW training without trying them would you?

If you think some movements are a bit risky the simple solution is to NOT do them. Just because you you're using KB's doesn't mean that you have to do every KB exercise.